Cath Kenneally

A Wrong Bus


A wrong bus
from Angel
carries on down Church Street
into Kilburn

where I made landfall
that first time
by the last Northern Line train
a Tuesday night
green sofa cushions on the floor

soft plastic nozzle on a hose
attached to the bath tap
for showers

a garden flat
with area steps

my friend’s baby
in a Mothercare pram in
Petit Bateau matelot shirts
lifted and gifted
by a French amie

I peer down side streets
that haven’t come up in the world

scan the road ahead for a remembered
glass overpass that led
to high-windowed public baths

as we turn onto my road
that they haven’t appeared





Towpath Tales


I go for a long walk
along the canal, from Wendy’s
to the lower end of Upper Street

a longer walk than I calculated
this hot evening,           too far
to turn right around and return

so I veer off the main thoroughfare
find, at my elbow, a downstairs dive
Brew Box, where

the day’s heat has brewed and
thickened. I choose, not coffee
but a trio of donut-shaped icecreams

one loop, green tea, one, mango
one a nameless grey-white fruit
held in shape, I guess, by edible

gel which I break into bits with a fork
and eat with apparent gusto, for
the benefit of two young

Latin lads at the counter who
watch approvingly, smiles and nods
I eat it all, nod and smile

remembering finding a tin of gum mastic
among shed contents, bought as
one lot at a deceased-estate sale

rough amber nuggets in a Craven A tin
unless that was frankincense
or some other outdated, pungent

stuff, way old even then,
an old man’s bits and bobs
collected early last century, kept and kept

I’ve barely got used to being in the twenty
first, though it’s getting on for fifteen years
back then a friend had a Mrs Beeton

some of whose recipes called for gum mastic
too weird for me: it’s a setting agent
maybe still used, maybe in this?

Put the gel to back of mind
stride off, fearful of missing the darkening
way back to the towpath, but there it is

glowing faintly, in fading light
brisk now, heading home
regretting the ice loops

beginning to notice, as dusk falls, how few
companions I have on the path 
brisker still, as fast as I can

Wendy is waiting with eggs, and roasted capsicums
the peppers’ bells cradling cherry tomatoes
anchovies and garlic buds

speeding cyclists, not muggers, are the danger
they tinkle, as instructed, their bicycle bells, twice
on approach

wasted on the hearing-deficient
I look often over one shoulder
skip a little sideways hop as another zips by

proudly dodging death on the towpath
no different to doughty residents
observing grey geese in their side-channel,

gauging one waterside bar’s welcome
over another, choosing none, but savouring
the choice I might make one day

recalling other walks – where was the narrowboat
that sold books? with the bubbling kettle on a hob
to make customers’ tea?

the walk’s taken hours; Wendy caculates
ground covered, territory conquered,
spottable spots spotted

Feet up, we watch Miranda, again, with Bruce Forsyth
all teeth and white hair, an old vaudevillean who wasn’t
to our current knowledge, a molester

also a bio of Ang (gh) ela Merkell
a good egg, solid, not hard-boiled,
Presbyterian-reared, consensus-bent

weathering a long term in office
such as we fickle Brits and colonials
might do well to consider

Moses the cat
sits on the mat, as cats do
keeping us ageless company





Cath Kenneally is an Adelaide poet and novelist, whose Around Here won the John Bray National Poetry Prize. Of her six volumes of poetry, the latest is eaten cold (Walleah Press 2013), in which each poem responds to one in the volume Cold Snack (AUP) by Auckland poet Janet Charman. Cath Kenneally’s two novels are Room Temperature and Jetty Road. A longtime arts journalist, as Arts Producer at Radio Adelaide she was responsible for Writers Radio, an award-winning national community radio books and writing program. In 2016 she was the inaugural CAL/J M Coetzee Writing Fellow at the Coetzee Centre at Adelaide University. She also holds an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from Adelaide University. Her work has appeared in many national and international journals, anthologies and been translated into several languages.